‘Moms of WMA’ have many years of patients and patience

Teddy Ryan, Director of Marketing & Communications

WMA Spotlight: Health Services

Of the many people dedicated to Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s transformational student experience, few wear as many “hats” as the staff of the Health Services Department.

Nurses, advisors, second mothers, confidantes, teachers, guidance counselors, cheerleaders —  you name it, they wear it. For the countless students, faculty and staff who have been impacted by their care, the three women who are our Health Services team are incredibly humble and gracious. Rose Power, Lucie Ziemba and Amy Crocker are the embodiment of compassion and caregiving. The three women — all school nurses — are mainstays on campus and combine for nearly 50 years of service to WMA.

“Rose, Lucie and Amy are, in my mind, literally and figuratively the Moms of WMA,” Head of School Brian P. Easler said. “I have known Rose and Lucie for 20 years and Amy for almost 10, and I have been consistently impressed with their professional and nurturing approach to the health of everyone on campus and . . . their patience. We are all lucky to have such fine women looking out for our welfare.”

Foundations

Mrs. Rose Power

Our Director of Health Services has worked at WMA since 2000. She grew up in nearby Northampton, Massachusetts, and went to nursing school in Boston. She began her career working with adults in the burn trauma unit before getting married, moving to Connecticut and working as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse.

Her son Jeffrey ’06 started at WMA in Grade 6 with apprehension, but after his first day Mrs. Power recalled, “He said ‘Mom, I love it here so much. Thank you,’ and that was the first sign.” Her friend Catherine Jurgens (a parent to Peter ’06 and Brigid ’08), then head of Health Services at WMA, announced she was leaving and encouraged Mrs. Power to apply, and the rest is history. Mrs. Power also had her daughter Kerry ’07 graduate from the Academy.

“I never dreamed I would work here or any other school or be a school nurse because I  loved the NICU so much,” Mrs. Power said. “The first few years, (there was) a huge learning curve — so different from being in the ICU  with tiny babies to being around teenagers. I  was the advisor to the peer counselors back then, and we were making smoothies and I just kept thinking to myself, I can’t believe I’m working and I’m making smoothies and I’m hanging out with kids. It was pretty awesome.”

Mrs. Lucie Ziemba

A native of nearby Chicopee, Massachusetts, Mrs. Ziemba joined WMA 20 years ago. She was not always in the nursing field. She worked for the vice president at Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Massachusetts, and then stayed home when her first of two sons was born.

It wasn’t until a late-night trip to the emergency room for her husband, Jim, when she became a healthcare advocate for him, that she realized nursing was her calling. Mrs. Ziemba pursued her nursing education while raising her sons Nick and Alex. This college journey made her appreciate the health care vocation for all its challenges and day-to-day “non-routine” scenarios. Following nursing school, she pursued rotations through many disciplines and ultimately felt most comfortable with the medical surgical practice.

“When you see and do many medical treatments and rely on your assessment skills to make patients (and the WMA population)  feel better, it’s a home run,” Mrs. Ziemba said.

Mrs. Ziemba joined the WMA community shortly before Mrs. Power.

Mrs. Amy Crocker

Mrs. Crocker attended Minnechaug Regional High School, a public school in Wilbraham,  and studied nursing at Elms College in Chicopee. She worked as a surgical nurse at Holyoke

(Massachusetts) Hospital and later transitioned to Baystate Health and then into homecare for mothers and babies. She met Mrs. Power while studying nursing and serendipitously reconnected when she was working as a home health aide and Mrs. Power was the nurse who oversaw the case. Not long after, she started at WMA part-time and moved to full-time after a couple of years. Her children — Maggie ’18, Will ’20 and John ’25 — have attended, or are attending, WMA.

What It Takes

Aside from having a positive and caring bedside manner, there are a few key ingredients to being a nurse, and being a good one.

Knowing how to problem-solve is key, and being able to think on your feet is important. 

A typical day is anything but typical in the Health Services Office on Faculty Street. The nurses can have a host of various ailments and issues happening at once, and no two days are ever the same. With the right combination of skill, warm personality and caring nature,  the three handle every ailment — big and small — with grace and kindness.

Changes Over the Years

Things can change significantly in 20 years. They can also stay the same.

“Kids don’t change. Their worries are similar during this period of their lives. How the nurses try and help the students find solutions and adapt to their current situation has changed quite a  bit,” Mrs. Ziemba said. Perhaps one of the biggest changes, and trends, the nurses have seen is the use of technology, namely social media and the impact it’s had. Mrs. Power referred to a book the WMA faculty book group has read, “The Great Disconnect,” and shared her concern for families spending too much time connected to technology, and not to each other. On the positive, “health education (at WMA) has been a big plus and working with Tess (Presnal) as the School Counselor — it’s having as many resources available to kids as possible.”

Deep Impact

For Mrs. Power, Mrs. Ziemba and Mrs. Crocker, WMA has also left an indelible mark on their lives. On varying levels, they’ve seen the impact they’ve had on students during their time here.

“An amazing part of the job (when it’s super busy) is you work very hard to encourage the students. Sometimes the kids can figure out where they went wrong and how to straighten out their dilemma and how to make it right. To help them understand this is life and tomorrow will look a little different after a good night’s sleep. It’s comforting to know you’ve made a difference,” Mrs. Ziemba said. “The community of students and adults alike is so incredibly supportive of one another. The adults are a committed and caring group in seeing the students through their time at WMA. You learn from each other.”

As an alumni parent and even though they have been alumni for a long time, Mrs. Power is proud that WMA is now, not just her kids’ school, but hers too. “It’s been life-changing for me. The exposure to other cultures and perspectives . . .” She loves seeing the transformation of students upon graduation — whether they started in Middle School, Grade 9 or even as a postgrad.

“WMA is another family and community. The support here as a parent and now as a  staff member . . . I gave (daughter) Maggie her Middle School certificate and her diploma  and this year, I’ll give Will his,” Mrs. Crocker said. “Kids get what they need here, and the education, the travel and the network of alumni and parents is invaluable. Kids just saying ‘thank you’ makes me feel like I made a difference.”

“Kids come to us from all over the world, they all have stories,” Mrs. Ziemba said. It takes special people to work with students — whether they be teachers, coaches, advisors, dorm parents or, yes, nurses. They all have stories too, and we are grateful that Mrs. Power, Mrs. Ziemba and Mrs. Crocker have, and continue to, share theirs with us.

 

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Of the many people dedicated to Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s transformational student experience, few wear as many “hats” as the staff of the Health Services Department Nurses, advisors, second mothers, confidantes, teachers, guidance counselors, cheerleaders —  you name it, they wear it.

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